The expanded Laursen Bear River Preserve, along with other adjacent preserves, creates a block of more than 8,000 contiguous acres of protected lands in the Bear River and Raccoon Creek watersheds.
These expansive oak woodlands support healthy and diverse populations of plants and wildlife. The preserve provides critical habitat for animals such as mule deer, mountain lion, grey fox, hawks and many others.
“This property was on the market and certainly would have been developed had the original landowners, Andy and Shana Laursen, not agreed to sell it to Placer Land Trust instead,” shared Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “We are so grateful to Andy and Shana for working with Placer Land Trust to protect their 546 acres of land along the Bear River.”
The Laursens were key funders of Placer Land Trust in the early 2000s to help the nonprofit remain sustainable. In 2005, the couple provided funds for Placer Land Trust to purchase the Shutamul Bear River Preserve, adjacent to the Laursens’ land. Placer Land Trust recognized the Laursens for their conservation work with the 2010 Placer Conservator Award.
The property also has a rich human history. Andy Laursen feels the land is special because, as he explains, “People have lived on this land for probably thousands of years. There’s been Native Americans, there’s been Basque sheepherders, there’s been gold miners. And we bought all this land to keep it the way it is, to keep it natural.”
Placer Land Trust plans to share the land with the public through docent-led activities starting in 2021.
“The interfaces between urban and wild spaces are so important,” says Patty Schifferle of Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, one of the funders of the project. “These places are vital not only for wildlife and the health of our watersheds but for the health of our communities. Blue oak woodlands are quickly vanishing with pressure from urban development, and now is the time to protect them for generations to come.”
The funding needed to acquire the Laursen Bear River Preserve was provided by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board, agencies of the state of California under the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68), and from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and private sources, including Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, the Laursen family and Placer Land Trust members.
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